Uncle Billy 

Adapted by Andrew Calhoun, recorded on Bound to Go. 

Illustrates the standard woes of a sharecropper after the Civil War; found in Negro Folk Songs, collected by Natalie Curtis-Burlin, therein called "Cotton-Pickin' Song." 

One twentieth of May morning, under that barnyard tree, 
Them Yankees read them papers, and set the poor slave free.

I been workin' in a contract, ever since that day, 
And just found out this mornin' why it didn't pay. 

I told boss this year I try hit once more, 
He counted off this cotton, took every other row. 

When boss sold the cotton, I ask for my half, 
He told me I chopped out my half with the grass. 

Boss says, "Uncle Billy, I think you done well, 
To pay your debts with cotton, and have your seeds to sell." 

Well I sold them seeds for five cents a peck, 
And bought this red hankerchief, you see around my neck. 

Hurry up, children, it's time we been gone, 
This weather look so cloudy—I think it's gonna storm.

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